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Bennett, Gwendolyn (08 July 1902–30 May 1981), writer and artist, was born in Giddings, Texas, the daughter of Joshua Robin Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on a Native American reservation. In 1906 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Bennett’s father studied law and her mother worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. Her parents divorced and her mother won custody, but her father kidnapped the seven-year-old Gwendolyn. The two, with her stepmother, lived in hiding in various towns along the East Coast and in Pennsylvania before finally settling in New York....

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Burgess, Gelett (30 January 1866–18 September 1951), author, editor, and illustrator, was born Frank Gelett Burgess in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Harvey Burgess, a well-to-do painting contractor, and Caroline Matilda Brooks, a genteel Unitarian. After graduating from the English High School in Boston, Burgess attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his B.S. in 1887. To avoid perceived restrictions of life in New England, he became a draftsman on survey work with the Southern Pacific Railroad (1888–1891), hiked and sketched his way through France and Spain, and instructed topographical drawing at the University of California at Berkeley (1891–1894). He was dismissed from his academic post for pulling down a cast-iron statue of Henry Cogswell, a prominent local dentist revered as a philanthropic teetotaler. Burgess designed furniture for a San Francisco firm at minimal pay, lived on Russian Hill, and puzzled his neighbors by appearing at odd hours with his 5′ 4″ frame draped in vivid capes....

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Demorest, Ellen Curtis (15 November 1824–10 August 1898), publisher and businesswoman, was born Ellen Louise Curtis in Schuylerville, New York, the daughter of Henry Curtis, a farmer and manufacturer, and Electa Abel. She attended local schools and graduated from Schuylerville Academy at age eighteen. Exposed to the fashion industry from an early age—her father’s factory made hats, and the nearby resort at Saratoga Springs regularly featured dapper visitors from across the nation—she established a prosperous local millinery business immediately after graduating. Within a year she had moved on to larger markets in Troy and finally—by the early 1850s—to New York City. Settling in Brooklyn, she met merchant William Jennings Demorest during a business transaction. They were married in 1858. In addition to raising two children from her husband’s first marriage—he was a widower—Demorest would have two of her own. Unlike most couples of their era, the Demorests became equal partners in professional as well as domestic life....

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Dow, George Francis (07 January 1868–05 June 1936), antiquarian, editor, and museum curator, was born in Wakefield, New Hampshire, the son of George Prince and Ada Bingham Tappan. He grew up in Topsfield, Massachusetts, and lived there most of his life. After attending a commercial school in Boston, Dow entered the wholesale metal business, in which he was engaged from 1885 to 1898. During this time he became increasingly interested in local history and material culture. In 1893 Dow began to publish a local newspaper, the ...

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Goldwater, John L. (14 February 1916–26 February 1999), publisher and writer, was born John Leonard Goldwater in New York City, the son of Daniel Goldwater and Edna Bogart Goldwater, who died during childbirth; the father, reportedly overcome by grief, abandoned the child and died soon afterward. Growing up in a foster home, Goldwater attended the High School of Commerce where he developed secretarial skills and some facility as a writer. At seventeen, he hitchhiked across the country, stopping at Hiawatha, Kansas, where he took a reporting job on the local newspaper. He subsequently moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he found a position as secretary to the administrator of Grand Canyon National Park, then to Arizona, and eventually on to San Francisco and jobs with the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, and, in rather rapid succession, other employers. After a year or so, he returned to New York. In later years, recounting his youthful employment experiences, Goldwater usually explained that he moved often from job to job because his attentions to young women in each location resulted in his being fired. Back in New York, he worked for various publishers and then became an entrepreneur, buying unsold periodicals, mainly pulp magazines, from publisher Louis H. Silberkleit and exporting them for sale abroad. Observing the success of the Superman character in the infant comic book industry in 1939, he joined Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne in launching a comic book publishing firm with himself as editor (while continuing as president of Periodicals for Export, Inc.), Silberkleit as publisher, and Coyne as bookkeeper....

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Jane Heap. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ6-2112).

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Heap, Jane (01 November 1883–16 June 1964), artist and editor, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of George Heap, an engineer, and Emma (maiden name unknown). Interested in art from an early age, Heap attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1901 until 1905 and later studied mural design in Germany. By the century’s second decade Chicago was in the midst of a “Renaissance” in art and literature. Writers and artists influenced by Nietzsche, Shaw, Picasso, and Gauguin attacked the straitlaced conservatism of the Victorian genteel tradition. Young midwesterners with artistic aspirations traveled to Chicago where they embraced and expressed an American modernism that owed much to European philosophies. Heap was among them....

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Kocher, A. Lawrence (24 July 1885–06 June 1969), architect, editor, and scholar of American colonial architecture, was born Alfred Lawrence Kocher in San Jose, California, the son of Rudolph Kocher, a Swiss-born jeweler and watchmaker, and Anna (maiden name unknown). He received his B.A. from Stanford University in 1909 and his M.A. from Pennsylvania State University in 1916. He studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1909 to 1912. In 1910 he married Amy Agnes Morder. She died of cancer prior to 1932, the year of his marriage to Margaret Taylor. He had two children....

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Liberman, Alexander (04 September 1912–19 November 1999), sculptor and painter, was born Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman in Kiev, Russia, the son of Semeon Liberman, a well-regarded timber industry analyst for both the czarist and Bolshevik governments, and Henriette Pascar, a half-gypsy who directed the first state-run children's theater in Moscow. During the early years of the Russian Revolution, chaotic conditions in St. Petersburg and Moscow, where Liberman spent his early childhood, were reflected in an unruly temperament, which forced his parents to school him at home. In 1921 Semeon Liberman received permission from Lenin to take his son abroad, where Alexander was sent to boarding schools in England and France. His mother accompanied him to England, while his father continued to work in Moscow before finally and permanently leaving for France, where the family was reunited in 1926....

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Longfellow, William Pitt Preble (25 October 1836–03 August 1913), architect and author, was born in Portland, Maine, the son of Stephen Longfellow V, a lawyer, and Marianne Preble. His parents’ marriage was not a happy one, and at the age of three William went to live with his maternal grandmother Nancy Gale Tucker Preble. The Longfellows divorced in 1850, and William’s mother eventually remarried. Graduating from Harvard College with a B.A. in 1855 and from Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School, where he was also an instructor in engineering, with an S.B. in 1859, Longfellow received his architectural training through study abroad and while employed in the offices of Edward Clarke Cabot. Both Cabot and Longfellow were among the founders of the Boston Society of Architects, of which Cabot served as president and Longfellow as secretary in 1868–1869. From 1870 to 1872 he worked in Washington, D.C., at the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department under ...

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Moore, Donald Wynkoop (1905?–07 April 1986), magazine editor and writer, best known for his work on comic strips and teleplays. His birthplace and his parents’ names and occupations are unknown. He graduated second in his class with a bachelor’s degree in English from Dartmouth College in 1925. For several years after graduation he worked as a journalist, first in his parents’ hometown of Miami, Florida, at the ...

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Stickley, Gustav (09 March 1858–21 April 1942), cabinetmaker, house designer, and editor, was born in Osceola, Wisconsin, the son of Leopold Stoeckel and Barbara Schlaegel, farmers. Leopold, whose German parents immigrated to Wisconsin early in the nineteenth century, changed the family’s name to Stickley. Young Stickley spent most of his childhood on the family farm near Osceola. He did not like the life of a farmer at the time, but he later advocated agrarian ideals, which he felt should be the basis of American family life. In 1870 Stickley’s father moved the family to Stillwater, Minnesota, where he took up the trade of stonemason. He apprenticed Gustav to a stonemason, but at age twelve the young boy found the work even more distasteful than farming. Shaping stone, however, did lead Stickley to an appreciation of wood and the ease with which it could be shaped....

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Alfred Stieglitz Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1935. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103681).

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Stieglitz, Alfred (01 January 1864–13 July 1946), photographer and editor, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, the son of Edward (originally Ephraim) Stieglitz, a German-born wool merchant, and Hedwig Werner. Stieglitz grew up in an affluent, cultured family who felt at home on two continents. After his family moved to New York City, Alfred was educated at the Charlier Institute, Townsend Harris High School, and the City College of New York, where he was ranked consistently as one of the top ten students in his class. By 1881 his father, a Civil War veteran, had made a fortune that enabled him to retire and take his family to Europe, where he provided his children the best possible continental education....

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Walter J. Travis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102319).

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Travis, Walter John (10 January 1862–31 July 1927), golfer, golf course architect, and golfing magazine editor, was born in Malden, Victoria, Australia, the oldest child of John Travis and Susan Eyelet. He was educated in Melbourne, Australia, attending a public school and Trinity College. Depending on what source one reads, he came to New York City as a boy or around 1886 as a representative of an Australian importing firm. In 1890 he married Anne Bent, and the couple would have two children....

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Wallace, Lila Bell Acheson (25 December 1889–08 May 1984), cofounder and co-owner of the Reader's Digest and philanthropist, cofounder and co-owner of the Reader’s Digest and philanthropist, was born in Virden, Manitoba, Canada, the daughter of T. Davis Acheson and Mary E. Huston. After Lila’s father completed his theological studies and became a Presbyterian minister, the family moved to the United States and became U.S. citizens. They lived in various small towns in the Midwest and West....

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Wright, Willard Huntington (15 October 1888–11 April 1939), editor, novelist, and critic, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of Archibald Davenport Wright, a hotel proprietor, and Annie Van Vranken. In 1900 the Wrights moved to Santa Monica, California, a crucial move, for a good part of Wright’s early professional development occurred in southern California. Both Wright and his brother Stanton were regarded as precocious by their parents, and both gravitated toward the arts. Stanton Wright early settled on a painting career, but Willard Wright vacillated, experimenting with painting and music before concentrating on literature....